Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 4 Christian Ohiri Harvard Triple Jumper, Nigerian Olympian and Soccer Star

My colleague, Roy Mason, often challenges me with obscure names in his commentaries, to see if I remember or ever knew about them.   In the issue about the 1964 NCAA meet, the last person named was Christian Ohiri of Harvard who finished fifth in the triple jump.  I confess I just overlooked Ohiri whom TF&N referred to as a 'bushy haired African', politically dubious today, but a sign of those times.    So I went back to the internet and found these things about Ohiri, a part time track athlete whose main sport at Harvard was soccer.  Ohiri came to Harvard when that institution decided it would begin actively recruiting deserving third world students.   One of their administrator/recruiters offered Ohiri an academic scholarship after an interview in Nigeria. He still holds records for scoring in consecutive games at Harvard and several other soccer accomplishments and 49 career goals.   He must have competed in track as an afterthought, but held the Harvard triple jump record for over 40 years.   He competed for Nigeria at the Tokyo Olympics finishing 24th in the triple jump.   A brilliant student, graduating magna cum laude, Ohiri went on to Harvard Business School, but while studying there was stricken with leukemia and died in  1966.   He is still remembered at Harvard today as the soccer/lacrosse  field carries his name.   Reference to him can be found at the links below.


The following article by Chris Lala appeared in Boston Magazine  November , 2001
On a summer afternoon in the mid 1960s, New York City's Port Authority buzzed with the usual swirl of commuters and tourists, pickpockets, students, and whores. Steve Sewall was zigzagging through the crowds when he heard his name ring out.
“Hey, Stevie!” the voice called. It was a cheery, recognizable voice, the near-laugh in it unmistakable amid the white noise of the city: Chris Ohiri.
Several years earlier, at the start of what was to become one of history's most tumultuous decades, Christian Ohiri and Stephen Sewall had been wide-eyed freshmen on the Harvard soccer team. The 22-year-old Ohiri, having recently arrived from his native Nigeria, had been taking in the strange machine that was America, so fast and modern and sure of its inalienable rights. His homeland had endured decades of British colonial rule, and only then, in the fall of 1960, had independence been more than just a vague notion. Young Steve Sewall, on the other hand, had been taking in Ohiri himself — the graceful, honed world-class athlete who radiated affection and scored eight goals during his first game in a Harvard soccer uniform. “Chris had a noble bearing,” Sewall says now. “Unlike most of us, he was comfortable in public. He was an angel. And a lion on the soccer field.” The story of Chris Ohiri's life is not found in record books or alumni files. It's not told in a videotape archive. His is a folk tale, an imprecise collection of scenes and rumors forgotten and remembered countless times since his death 35 years ago this month. It comes word-of-mouth and pieced together and is mostly impossible to verify. But aside from statistics such as birth dates and goal tallies, what in life can ever be considered factual? Stephen Sewall and Chris Ohiri embraced on that afternoon in New York. They spent a few moments catching up, and Ohiri let out what Sewall calls his “Nigerian laugh,” a loud cackle from the side of his mouth. Then they moved on. It was the last time they saw each other. It was the end of something. In 1959, David Henry, then director of admissions at Harvard, traveled to Africa with a small, elite cadre of U.S. university admissions directors ready to offer assistance to the many newly decolonized nations. At the time, there was only one university in Nigeria and one in Ghana. The lack of infrastructure and institution, however, did not dampen the world's great hope for West Africa. Ghana had gained its independence in 1957, followed quickly by the French territories, and by the time of Henry's visit, Nigeria's independence practically shimmered in the hot air. Some in power recognized the grassroots responsibilities of sovereignty. Stephen Awokoya, then Nigeria's minister of education, approached David Henry about placing Nigerian students in American schools. “I told him Harvard would take one or two,” Henry says today from his home near Portland, Maine. “I've got a lot more than that,” Awokoya replied. “What makes you think they all want to go to Harvard?” They chuckled together, two very different men with shared convictions — education as tantamount to success. Henry enlisted a circle of fellow admissions directors, including those from Brown, Amherst, and Bowdoin, and they set up a makeshift Nigerian scholarship program. (It eventually grew into the African Scholarship Program of American Universities.) Twenty-four students were selected. All that remained was to determine which student would go to which school. So, like kids on a playground, the directors held a draft. While in Nigeria, Henry had encountered a young soccer player from Owerri, a town of 10,000 in the southeastern region called Biafra, who had already applied for the scholarship. “I knew Chris was a good soccer player,” Henry says. And with the fourth pick, he snagged Ohiri for Harvard. His friend and Amherst counterpart, Bill Wilson, was to choose next. “He yelled, 'Henry, you SOB — Ohiri was my number one,'” Henry says, laughing. It was a fateful turn of events, as Ohiri would go on to score four goals against Amherst in his sophomore season. Chris Ohiri appeared on the Harvard soccer fields — an oblong swath of scrub green in the shadow of the football stadium on the Brighton side of the Charles — a man among boys. Ivy League rules excluded freshmen from varsity competition, so at 22 he had several years on his teammates and opponents. But more important was his vast experience, including playing for the Nigerian Olympic team and scoring two goals in the team's qualifying bid for the 1960 summer games in Rome. Ohiri's timing and quick decision-making were foreign to most players in America, where the best athletes usually went out for baseball or football. He was tall and strong, with massive, chiseled thighs that helped him run faster and jump higher than most anyone else on the field. “He could've played on any team in the world,” says teammate John Thorndike. “After playing for the Nigerian Olympic team, he comes to a little backwater place like Harvard? He was the biggest thing that ever happened to us.” That season, while the varsity enjoyed a decent year, it was Ohiri's mastery on the freshman field that excited Harvard Yard. The sidelines were mobbed with the curious, and normally staunch football fans wandered over to the soccer fields at halftime. Varsity player Seamus Malin, now a television soccer commentator, often peeked over at the adjacent freshman field. “Chris was hitting rockets, breaking goal posts, knocking goalies out,” Malin recalls. “And there were other players too,” namely, scrappy and artistic midfielder Bill Ward — one of this story's several ghosts — who left Harvard after his sophomore year and disappeared into his native Jamaica. Malin was almost giddy with anticipation for the next year. By many accounts, Ohiri's play against Amherst during his sophomore year was a prodigal performance. His total domination enlightened everyone around to the true shape of the game, to its speed, its grace, its mystery. Although Ohiri scored four goals against Amherst, it was his disallowed fifth that Seamus Malin remembers. “The ball came in from the wing. I turned and saw cleats flash by my face. Chris buried the header from 15 yards out, and the Philistine of a ref called a foul and disallowed the goal. He claimed no one could be that high without leaning on a defender.” Former Amherst defender Larry DeWitt had been given the responsibility of marking Ohiri. “We heard about him before we played him,” DeWitt says. “I played my best game ever, got a compliment from the Harvard coach. And I think he scored two or three goals.” “He was so far ahead of anyone else around,” says David Straus, Ohiri's roommate in Harvard's Eliot House. “He was in such control. He would come to the sidelines with the ball and say, 'Watch this,' and then go score.” The statistics of Chris Ohiri's athletic life are irrefutably astounding. In three varsity seasons, despite a constant struggle with injuries, he broke every school and league goal-scoring record and led the Crimson to three consecutive Ivy League titles. He still holds school records for goals in a game (5), points in a game (10), career goals (47), and career points (94). The fact that Ivy League rules allowed athletes only three varsity seasons renders his feats more remarkable. Furthermore, he lettered three times in track and still holds the school record for the triple jump. Real, nonnumerical life was lived on the other side of the Charles from the soccer fields. Harvard, like much of America in the early '60s, was alive with optimism. Alumnus John F. Kennedy was in the White House, urging the U.S. to embrace the emergent Africa. “We watched the crumbling of the European colonial empires and celebrated the independence movements,” says David Straus, who spent a summer journeying through West Africa, where he met Chris Ohiri's father. Straus describes Ohiri senior as a “man of local distinction but not highly sophisticated. Seeing Chris's father made his transition so much more remarkable.” Nigeria, having gained its independence in October 1960, exemplified the new Africa. It boasted a democratically elected parliament and vast natural resources. While the country was redefining itself, one of its most promising young lights was thousands of miles away, learning how to maneuver through the complexities of the modern world Nigeria was poised to join. His friends saw in him what Malin calls a “seriousness of purpose.” Ohiri worked in Harvard's international office. He held jobs at the United Nations and at IBM, where he reportedly was being groomed to spearhead the computer giant's efforts in Nigeria. After graduation, he won a traveling fellowship and later enrolled at Harvard Business School. Ohiri was methodically preparing himself for a return to a wildly different place from the one he had left. Yet he never discussed his country's new order with his Harvard friends. “I never had political conversations with Chris,” says Steve Sewall, who cites their age difference and a lack of common context. “He probably could have [talked seriously about politics], but I couldn't.” “There are a lot of conversations I wish I'd had,” says David Straus. “He was not openly activist, though clearly he was developing himself to go back to some significant role. He would have been a Mandela type of person.” All that exists in the light of a new day may not last through dusk. Human nature will eventually insinuate itself. The '60s ground on, and the world disintegrated into so much geopolitical chaff. The Soviet Union built the Berlin Wall. Kennedy was assassinated. The Cultural Revolution began to roll across China. Nineteen-year-olds were sent to Vietnam. And Africa became a Cold War chessboard. As the global lines of conflict accelerated, so did Chris Ohiri's trajectory. Sometime after graduation, he married a young African-American woman named Shirley whom he had met in New York City. Before the wedding, they went together to Nigeria to receive his father's blessing, then returned to Boston. In January 1966, Nigeria — with its three major and traditionally hostile tribes: Yoruba, Ibo, and Hausa — began a downward spiral that continues to this day. An attempted military coup saw the murder of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. The coup failed, and the military assumed power. In July the military's commander was assassinated, and in October there were horrific ethnic massacres. That fall, not long after running into Steve Sewall in New York City, Chris Ohiri — the explosive athlete, the magna cum laude student, the angel lion — collapsed on the Harvard Business School tennis courts, just a few yards from the varsity soccer field. He was diagnosed with leukemia. No one is sure what happened next. He and Shirley traveled again to Owerri. Chris wanted to die at home. Supposedly, Chris and Shirley ran into some kind of trouble upon landing in Nigeria. One friend believes Ohiri was roughed up by military personnel on account of his being of the Ibo tribe rather than of the ruling Hausa. Eventually, they reached Owerri, and on November 7, just six months before a full-fledged civil war would plunge the entire country back into darkness, Chris Ohiri died. Shirley, the person who could most illuminate her husband, who could resurrect the man in this story, returned to the U.S. and, several months later, cut all contact with Ohiri's circle of friends. The Harvard soccer field is no longer a rough patch. It's smooth and green, and on fall afternoons the sun stays high enough to keep the football stadium's shadow at bay. It was renamed Chris Ohiri Field in 1983. Coinciding with the sport's rise in popularity, college soccer has greatly improved since the '60s. Every player on the Harvard squad is strong and skillful. Sophomore Ladd Fritz stands 6'1″, 175 pounds, and has a shot that could rip through the netting. Freshman Jeremy Truntzer is tenacious and runs like the wind. They look fresh and innocent compared to the wizened faces in the black-and-white photographs of Chris Ohiri and his teammates. When Ohiri's name is mentioned to third-year coach John Kerr Jr. after a game, he simply nods. He surveys Ohiri Field, the dispersing crowds of fans, and his own smiling, victorious players. This idyllic place on the banks of the Charles seems so far away from the war-torn villages of West Africa, so sunlit compared to the shadows of a man's life and death. Finally, Kerr sums up all anyone really knows of Chris Ohiri: “The legend?”

Harvard Hall of Fame:
Christian L. Ohiri '64

Ohiri Field is named for Chris Ohiri '64, a native of Owerri, Nigeria, who died of cancer while attending classes at the Harvard Business School following his graduation.
A magna cum laude graduate, Ohiri was a soccer and track standout for the Crimson. A center forward in soccer, he led the Ivy League in scoring in each of his last three years, including setting a record of 11 goals in a season. In track, he was also a standout, winning the triple jump in the Heptagonal and IC4A Championships.
In October, 1983, the soccer and lacrosse field adjacent to the Harvard Business School was named Chris Ohiri Field. The inscription from the plaque at the field reads:
Chris Ohiri Field
in affectionate memory of
Christian Ludger Ohiri, A.B. 1964
this field is named.
Eager scholar--loyal teammate--skilled athlete
in soccer, track and field.
His college generation remembers here a man
generous in friendship who loved God and
and faced the conflicts of life
with honesty, enthusiasm
and courage.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 3 Sir Christopher Chataway R.I.P.

Chris Chataway passed away this weekend.  His obituary appeared in the New York Times today, January 20, 2013.  

He led the third lap of Roger Bannister's epic first four minute mile at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, England.    He was 82 years old.   At the age of 64 he returned to Iffley Road and ran a 5:48 mile.    During his career he set world records at 5000 meters and  twice at three miles, once defeating Vladimir Kuts in a tremendous race at London's White City Stadium.  He finished fifth in the 5000 meters at Helsinki in 1952 after taking a tumble on the last lap  and 11th at Melbourne in 1956.   His life did not end with athletics.  He went on  television and then to serve his nation in parliament and as a cabinet minister.     Chris Brasher , the third runner in that four minute mile died a few years ago.  Now only Roger Bannister remains. 

 Below are obituaties from several of the world's leading newspapers


The Telegraph and Guardian  have probably the most definitive obituary including a youtube clip



beginning of last lap at Iffley Rd.
a few weeks later in Turku, Finland when Landy ran the second sub 4


Chataway's story brings back memories of the storied era of British middle and long distance running. Sadly, and perhaps politically incorrect, the prominence of the European runners is definitely a relic of the past. As the Africans took over, I feel the global interest in distance running waned. Even people like me find it difficult to keep up with it all as we are deluged with more and younger Kenyans, Tunesians, and Moroccans popping up in meet results. I wonder if we will ever see any parity in the world of distance running. Maybe not, if one takes to heart the findings in "The Sports Gene".

I hope all of you have a good day. It is beastly cold here and we can expect more of the same with an expected low of -5 on tap for Thursday.    Steve 
Don't forget, Cram, Coe, and Ovett kept the tradition going into the 80's.   Even though I had the experience of living and working in Kenya and Tanzania for a number of years, I too find it difficult to keep up with all these great African runners.  I couldn't from memory name a single runner who won an Olympic distance medal after 1984.   It was easy with the advent of Keino,  Jipcho, Temu , Bayi, and Rono but they too seem to have gotten swamped by all these new chaps.  Maybe it's just the process of aging on my part.   George

I didn't forget, just temporarily stored the information elsewhere ......believe that ?  Steve

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 2 1964 NCAA Meet

Editor's Note:   Rather than doing the NCAA and AAU meets in one post for June 1964 (that would be too much of a good thing), we will cover those meets in separate issues as well as the Olympic trials and meets leading up to the OT's.  So fasten yer seatbelts. 
Note:  One of our readers, Thomas Coyne caught an error on the Oregon team photo below, correcting the date to 1965 from 1964.  Since the photo probably came from Coach Bowerman's papers, we'll chalk the error up to him.  However our sharp eyed and like minded Thomas Coyne did not let it get past him.   Then another follow up came from John Lawson, former Kansas All American, bringing more information that Thomas was looking for.  Good job guys.   If anyone else catches mistakes or has more information to add about our stories, we'll be happy to put that on the blog. Write us at  irathermediate@gmail.com    ed.

This month's issue of Track and Field News reports three vitally important meets.
  The NCAA qualifies the top six to compete in the Olympic Trials. 
The AAU also qualifies the top six finishers for the Trials, but also qualifies the top two finishers for the team that will face the Russians in the Coliseum July 25-26. 
The winner of the Olympic Semi-Final meet will be on the Olympic team. 
June 18-20 finds us in Eugene, Oregon for the NCAAs. The Ducks come through for the hometown fans. Oregon, on the strength of 24 points in the javelin, runs away with the title with 70 points, a comfortable 30 points ahead of San Jose State.
Harry Jerome adds 16 points with a meet record 10.1 in the 100, a mark matched by Edwin Roberts of North Carolina College and Trenton Jackson of Illinois in second and third.
Edwin Roberts
Bob Hayes
with kind permission of Finnobar Callanan, Ireland


  Bob Hayes chooses to run only the 200 and does so magnificently, clocking a wind aided 20.4. Once again Roberts matches the winning time but gets a second for his troubles. Jerome is third in 20.6. Roberts and Jerome are the meet's top scorers with 16 points.

Today, with the advent of technology, there are seldom ties in running events. This is not the case in 1964. In this meet there are two. The oddity is that they are not in the shortest races. In the 400 Nick Lee of Morgan State has the early lead but Ulis Williams of Arizona State owns the backstretch and takes a two yard lead into the final straight. Kent Bernard of Michigan
Kent Bernard
closes strongly, but BYU's Bob Tobler
Bob Tobler
finishes even stronger, catching Williams at the tape as Bernard just misses. Officials can't decide between Williams and Tobler so both are awarded gold medals. Although running the same 45.9 as the others, Bernard has to settle for bronze.

 At this time Hayward Field had stands inside the track which block the view of the last turn. The 800 field is bunched at the end of a a 54.3 first lap, but down the backstretch John Garrison of San Jose State passes Villanova's Noel Carroll and USC's Bruce Bess
Bruce Bess
to lead as the field disappears behind the stands. When they enter the straight, Garrison still leads but Bess has passed Carroll. St. John's Tom Farrell and Ohio's Barry Sugden have entered the picture. Farrell's chances look dim until a hole opens. He powers through to win in 1:48.5. Sugden, Bess and Garrison take 2-3-4 in 1:48.7, 1:48.9 and 1:49.1. Carroll fades to sixth, being passed by Oregon's Ray Van Asten. 

 As exciting as the 800 is, the 1500 is even better. There is the Oregon – Oregon State rivalry between Morgan Groth and Archie San Romani.  Middle America is represented by Tom Von Ruden of Oklahoma State, Richard Romo of Texas,

Romo leading a stellar field of milers in another race


Romo today Pres. of U. of Texas San Antonio

 Robin Lingle of Missouri and John Camien of Emporia State. In addition, Ben Tucker of San Jose State, Bob Day of UCLA and Tom Sullivan of Villanova are toeing the starting line.

Day may be young, but he is not afraid to lead through splits of 58.3 and 2:00.6 with Groth and Von Ruden right on him. On the third lap Tucker takes the lead at the bell in 3:00.2. He leads down the backstretch with Groth on his shoulder. As they approach the final curve push comes to shove, literally. Groth, on the outside, takes a foot lead and cuts for the pole. He has been disqualified for this behavior twice this year.  Day is having none of this. He shoves Groth but breaks stride in doing so. The inspector calls it a double foul with no advantage to anyone, so no disqualification.
Morgan Groth
Groth is unsure of his condition but he has the lead into the straightaway. San Romani is the one man who can catch him but he waits for an opening that is late in coming. Past Day, Camien and Tucker he goes, but is too little too late to catch Groth who wins in a collegiate record 3:40.4. San Romani finishes in 3:40.8 with Camien third at 3:41.0. All three have run the final lap in 54.4. Tucker, Lingle and Day are next at 3:41.1, 3:42.0 and 3:42.1. 
Alert readers may recall that there are two races that result in ties, an unusual occurrence made all the more odd because the second tie comes in the 5000. Throw in the fact that the co-winners are from service academies and you have the makings of a great trivia question for Friday's track geezer gathering at the Dew Drop Inn.
The pace – 4:33 and 9:17 – is such that the field is together when the three mile mark is reached in 13:47.8. Jim Keefe of Central Connecticut has the lead as the field disappears behind the stands. He holds it into the straight but here comes Jim Murphy of the Air Force Academy and Bill Straub of Army. Straub, on the outside, leads by a foot “a few yards from the tape” but Murphy isn't through. He leans “like a hurdler” and the two are inseparable at the tape. They share gold medals and the new meet record of 14:12.3. Keefe is third at 14:13.0. Ken Moore adds to the Oregon total by placing fourth 14:14.4.
The 10,000 isn't anywhere near as close. Jim Keefe and Vic Zwolak are in the race but fall back to fifth and eighth as Danny Murphy of San Jose State and Doug Brown of Montana break away. Brown leads with two laps remaining but Murphy exhibits a gear Brown doesn't have. At six miles he leads by 55 yards and stretches his margin to the finish, winning by 14 seconds in a meet record 29:37.8. Murphy's teammate, Gene Gurule, sprints past Washington State's John Valient to take third and give the Spartans 16 points in this event.
Bill Bowerman and Clarence 'Hec' Edmunson coach U. of Washington
Remember when coaches dressed up for track meets?

Vic Zwolak may be bloody but he is unbowed. Two days later he dominates the steeplechase field with the fastest clocking by an American this year, 8:42.0. Oregon's distance depth pays off with 11 points as Mike Lehner finishes second in 8:50.6 and Clayton Steinke and Ken Moore take fifth and sixth.

A pic of this bunch of Oregon runners a few months later on their way to NCAA XC meet
Flanking Bowerman are Steinke and Lehner, San Romani, and Kenny Moore.  Tomm, Keith Forman, and Mortinson on the left.  Check the sartorial splendor.  This is the way college runners were expected to dress back then for road trips.
Correction :"The photo of the Oregon team going to the NCAA Cross Country Championship is mis-dated.  It should be 1963, not 1964.

The Oregon team pictured is the one that ran in the 1963 championship won by San Jose State at East Lansing.

The 1964 NCAA XC championship held at East Lansing was the last over the four mile distance.  It was won by Western Michigan University.
The following year the distance was moved up to six miles and the race was moved to Kansas (I forgot to check just where).  However, the
winning team was again from Western Michigan University." Thomas Coyne

"The 1965 and 1966 Cross Country Championships  were run at Kansas University in Lawrence, Kansas. Pleased to say I beat Doug Brown of Montana who had out leaned me in the 3 mile in Berkeley at the 1965 NCAA Outdoor Championships a few months earlier. "
John Lawson
  Coach Bill Bowerman has whipped Moore like a rented mule in this meet. In addition to his fourth in the 5000, he was ninth in the 10,000 before running 9:02.8 today in his first steeplechase.
Bobby May of Rice dominates a mediocre field in the 110 highs. He is out early and never looks back in equaling the meet record in 13.7.
The field in the 400 intermediates appears formidable until the semis lop off many of the contenders. Ron Whitney of Oxy, Jim Miller of Colorado and Jim Allen of Washington State, all potential winners, are relegated to being spectators for the final. Whitney hasn't gotten in shape after playing football last fall. Allen pulls a hamstring and drops out. Miller, holder of the fastest 300 meter hurdle time, has always had trouble with the last 100 and, indeed, that is the problem today.
None of this matters to LSU's Billy Hardin who provides ample evidence that he would have won no matter who was in the field. He is handicapped by his lane one placement but that isn't a problem. He has two yards by the second hurdle and stretches it all the way to the tape, winning in 50.2. Vince McArdle of Manhattan and Andy McCray of North Carolina College take the next two places in 50.8 and 50.9.
1964 is the first year of relay competition in the NCAA meet. The results range from so-so to pretty darn good. Only seven schools can round up four guys to run on a 440 team eliminating the need for heats. Anchorman Trenton Jackson brings Illinois from 3½ yards behind Fresno State to victory in 40.1. Fresno, USC and Colorado run 40.3, 40.5 and 40.7 but then quality falls off the table. Houston runs 41.6 but that looks pretty good compared with Oregon State's 42.3 and Oregon's 42.4. Coaches are holding their stars out. Darrell Newman could have made a difference for Fresno and Harry Jerome and Dave Blunt would have put Oregon in the thick of it. These three filled their days with 100s and 220s. One wonders that if coaches knew that only a final would be run, entries might have been different.
Cal's mile relay team is real good. Everyone knows that going in, but someone forgot to tell Nebraska lead off man, Dick Stramm. He passes off with the lead. It is short lived. Dave Fishback, brother of steeplechaser Jeff, puts the Golden Bears into the lead on the second leg and 45.6 and 45.8 legs by Forrest Beaty and Dave Archibald salt away a 3:07.4 win. The day's fastest splits, 45.3 and 45.4 belong to BYU's Bob Tobler and Michigan's Kent Bernard as their teams take second and third in 3:09.0 and 3:09.5.

The discus is won by New Mexico's “jolly, rolly-polly Negro track nut” (your reporter isn't capable of making this sort of stuff up), Larry Kennedy. who drops the platter 185-2 away to relegate Occidental's Bill Neville to second at 181-7½.

Larry Kennedy

Oct. 20, 2005Larry Kennedy, who won the discus for the University of New Mexico at the 1964 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, passed away on Oct. 8 in Santa Rosa, Calif. at the age of 63. Kennedy is survived by his wife of 24 years, Rebecca, and daughters Allison and Denise. Kennedy, then a junior at UNM, won the national title at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. with a school record-setting throw of 185 feet, 2 1/2 inches. His performance helped the New Mexico men finished tied for 18th at the `64 meet with a score of 10 points. Earlier in the year, Kennedy captured the Western Athletic Conference discus crown with a throw of 178 feet, 8 1/2 inches as the Lobos won their first of four consecutive WAC championships. Kennedy was a key figure on what was arguably the greatest team ever assembled at UNM in 1965. The '65 Lobos won every dual meet that spring, captured their second WAC title and finished a program-best fifth, just seven points out of first, at the NCAA Championships in Berkley, Calif. The Menlo Park, Calif. native finished his UNM career as the school record holder in both the shot put and discus throw. His shot put record of 58 feet, 10 inches, which he set during the Lobos' memorable dual-meet victory over USC at University Stadium in 1965, stood for 21 years. He is still one of just five New Mexico men ever to win a national outdoor title and the only discus champion in program history. "He was a great one," said current UNM head coach Matt Henry. "I remember raking the pits over there at University Stadium when I was a little kid and they used to have to chase us out of there when he would start warming up. We thought we were safe, but that discus would fly so far when he threw it, it would nearly hit us."   
from http://www.cstv.com/sports/c-track/stories/102005aae.html
Want to get a point in the hammer throw? All you have to do is show up. There are only six competitors. Everybody scores. That this event is a child of the East Coast is evident. The competitors are from Connecticut, Harvard, Bowdoin, Northeastern and Cornell. Somehow George Frenn of Long Beach State got in there, but he is injured and finishes last. Bill Corsetti of Northeastern is the favorite and leads going into the last round at 190-7, but Bowdoin sophomore Bill Schulten steps up and throws 191-6 on his last throw for the win.
Injuries have held back NYU's Gary Gubner this year but he is still the class of the shot put field. His 61-8 tops Southern Illinois' George Woods' 60-4¾.

Remember those 24 Oregon points in the javelin? Not only do these three throwers score enough points to top the total of all but five other schools, they comprise the first 1-2-3 finish in NCAA history.  
Les Tipton
Les Tipton's 249-10½ takes the gold, but the real story belongs to second placer Gary Reddaway. Not only does he have a bone growth on his right elbow which hurts so much that he hasn't thrown in six weeks, he is suffering from a cold and hay fever. As if that weren't enough, recently he was kicked by a horse.
Does Bill Bowerman give him the day off? Not the “spit on it, rub a little dirt on it and get back in the game” Bill Bowerman who has run Kenny Moore in the 5000, 10,000 and steeplechase. Reddaway gets a cortisone shot and is handed his javelin which he deposits 246-1½ down the field for second place. Ron Gomez may be only the third best Duck spear thrower this day, but his 232-8½ is better than the throw of any competitor without a big yellow “O” on his chest.
Rain causes havoc in the jumping events. Qualifying in the pole vault is supposed to be 15-6 but the damp conditions cause the officials to lower that requirement to 15-0. A downpour causes the finals to be delayed half an hour. Another half hour rain delay happens midway through the competition causing vaulters to stand around shivering. John Uelses of LaSalle manages to clear 16-0 for the win. Mike Flanagan of SC, Billy Pemelton of Abilene Christian and Bill Self of Washington State all clear 15-9 and finish in that order.
The weather conditions are not kind to the high jumpers either. They are jumping from a Tartan surface but getting there is the problem. They start on a soggy track, clear the concrete curb and run up a grassy rise to reach the apron. Still, six jumpers clear 6-9. Former NCAA champ Roger Olson of Cal and internationalist Paul Stuber of Oregon can go no higher. Cal's internationalist, Gene Johnson, Washington State's Bob Keppel and Harvard's Chris Pardee all clear 6-10 and finish 2-3-4 in that order.
John Rambo of Long Beach State separates himself from the crowd, clearing 6-11 on his first attempt and 7-0¼ on his third try. With the win in hand, he has the bar set at 7-2¼ and barely misses on one attempt. Today's success spurs a vigilant resolve. “I've only trained two days a week. Now I'm going to start training hard.”
The rain may have effected the vertical jumps but they don't seem to have been the cause of much concern in the horizontal jumps. Indeed, meet records are set in both.

Gail Hopkins of Arizona 

Gail Hopkins
broad jumps farther than anyone in the world not named Ter-Ovanesyan or Boston, 26-9¼. Sid Nicholas of Fresno State takes second at 26-1, relegating the 25-7 of Washington's Phil Shinnick to third best. Today has not been kind to former champions. Last year's winner, Clifton Mayfield, Central State (Ohio) pulls a hamstring and can kiss his Olympic hopes goodby. Anthony Watson, (Oklahoma) the 1962 champ, has a bad knee which forces him to jump off the wrong foot, producing a seventh place 24-0.
Fresno's Charlie Craig has three triple jumps better than the competition. His 51-8¾ is the meet record. Norm Tate of North Carolina College has a herniated muscle in his thigh. It is one of those “it only hurts when I jump” things. When he starts to jump “it pops out with dismaying unpredictability” says TFN editor Cordner Nelson. Tate still manages a second place 50-3 until the last round when San Jose State's Les Bond lands 50-7¼ from the board, relegating Tate to third. Gail Hopkins, yesterday's broad jump champion, can do no better than fourth at 50-2. In fifth at 50-0 is “bushy haired African” Christian Ohiri. Four jumpers have beaten him today, but he might be the brightest guy in the stadium. C.O. just graduated magna cum laude from Harvard.
Our next report will be from Rutgers University where the AAU Championships will be held June 27-28.
 Photos of U. of Oregon athletes are from U.. of Oregon library archives


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 1 Bill Woodhouse, Abiliene Christian University R.I.P.

One of the great sprinters of the mid twentieth century Bill Woodhouse passed away yesterday, January 11, 2014.   Bill was the eighth man to run 9.3 seconds for 100 yards.  He was on many of the Abiliene Christian relay teams anchored by Bobby Morrow.  Not a likely looking sprinter, nevertheless he was a keystone on those great ACC teams.

Below are some tributes from the ACC Alumni journal and a citation from the Iowa Association of Track Coaches Hall of Fame.

 ACU Remembers: Bill Woodhouse

Bill Woodhouse 500x790Bobby Morrow (’58) has deservedly received accolades too numerous to count for his performances on the track at Abilene Christian University in the 1950s. But he ran with other talented Wildcats on the multiple world record relay teams that made headlines. One of them was Bill Woodhouse (’59), who died yesterday at age 77 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
At 5-8 and 155 pounds, Woodhouse was an atypical physical specimen, as his head coach, Oliver Jackson (’42) described in 1959 in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story:
“If I was going to shoot a sprinter, Bill Woodhouse would be the last man in the crowd I’d aim at. He looks like a running guard on a Class B single-wing team – short and squatty – and anything but the way you would picture a sprinter. As a matter of fact, I took him sight unseen upon the recommendation of Drake (University) track coach Tommy Deckard, and when he got off that train I said to myself that if he ever ran as fast as 10.2 I’d be surprised.”
But surprise he did, becoming the eighth sprinter to run 9.3 in the 100-yard dash and tie a world record – joining others from Oregon, Southern California, Northwestern, California, Duke, San Jose State and ACU (Morrow) – when he recorded that time at a meet in Abilene on May 5, 1959.
Bobby Morrow, Bill Woodhouse, James Segrest and ______ were a world-record-setting 440-yard relay team at Abilene Christian.
Bobby Morrow (’58), Bill Woodhouse (’59), James Segrest (’59) and Waymond Griggs (’58) were a world-record-setting relay team at Abilene Christian.
He ran a wind-aided 9.1 in the 100 (the third person ever to do that) during a quadrangular meet April 18, 1959, in Abilene between ACU, North Texas, Texas Tech and Arizona State, the same day he became the second runner to ever run below 20 seconds (19.9) in the 200-yard-dash.
Woodhouse was a member of the ACU Sports Hall of Fame, Drake Relays Hall of Fame and Penn Relays Wall of Fame. The latter honor came in 2004, when he was inducted with 10-time Olympic medalist Carl Lewis, four-time Olympians Joetta Clark and 1941 Sullivan Award (honoring the top U.S. amateur athlete) winner Les MacMitchell. He won four Penn Relays titles as a Wildcat.
. A memorial service for him is planned for Jan. 14 at Seaside Funeral Home (4357 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78412, 361-992-9411).

From the Iowa Association of Track Coaches Hall of Fame

William "Bill" Woodhouse

Bill is a 1955 Graduate of Mason City High School. “Heed the advice of your parents, teachers and coaches!” Former Mohawk and Abilene Christian University sprinter Bill Woodhouse was inducted into the Penn Relays Hall of Fame during the 110 running of the Penn Relay Carnival at the University of Pennsylvanial. The Outstanding Collegiate performer of 1959, Woodhouse set a Carnival record of 9.5 in the 100 yard dash and anchored Carnival-record teams in the 440- and 880-yard relays. Woodhouse won four Penn Relays championships during his ACU career, running the third leg on the 1958 440-yard relay championship team, and then anchoring the winning 880-yard relay team in 1958 and the 440-yard and 880-yard relay teams in 1959. Woodhouse twice tied the world record in the 100-yard dash (9.3 seconds) in 1957 and 1959 during his career at Abilene Christian. He also ran on Wildcat relay teams which set world records in the 440-yard and 880-yard relay events. Woodhouse ranked fourth in the 220-yarrd dash and 10th in the 100-yard dash in the world in 1958. That season he finished fourth in both the 100 and 220 at the NCAA Division I National Meet. He also finished fifth in the 100 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1960 to become an alternate member of the U.S. Olympic Team, and he ran on the gold-medal-winning 400-meter relay team for the U.S. at the 1959 Pan American Games. Woodhouse is also a member of the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, and in 1991 he was inducted into the Abilene Christian University Sports Hall of Fame. Bill wants all to, “help those who are less fortunate or in need.” Bill Woodhouse believes his faith and relationship with God has been the key to his mental confidence and peace in the environment of competition in his track career and in the business world. Bill is in Corpus Christi, Texas and has been an insurance agent for State Farm. He is a true civil leader and is involved in many projects working with your including coaching. Bill’s honors with State Farm Insurance include the Millionaire’s Club, the Legion of Honor and the Bronze Tablet Award.

"He was one of the few world class sprinters who wore glasses."    Phil Scott

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...